Bill Esterson slams LibDems for voting with Tories to keep the B

Bill Esterson


Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson has slammed Liberal Democrat MPs for not backing a Labour parliamentary bid to scrap the Bedroom Tax.

Labour MPs attempted to get the Bedroom Tax scrapped by leading a vote in Parliament.

But the bid failed by 26 votes as 31 Lib Dem MPs, including Southport's John Pugh, backed the Bedroom Tax, which has been labelled by housing experts as a punitive attack on the country's most vulnerable people.

Introduced earlier this year by the Tory-Lib Dem Government, the Bedroom Tax targets social housing tenants of working age who receive housing support.

Those who are identified as having one spare room lose 14% of their housing benefits. Those with more than one, lose 25%. This includes 400,000 disabled people and thousands more families with young children.

Since the Bedroom Tax was introduced, Bill has been contacted by scores of people from throughout Sefton Central concerned that they can no longer afford to live in their family home. The majority of the people affected are disabled according to the government’s own figures.

Bill said the Liberal Democrat MPs who voted to keep the Bedroom Tax should be ashamed of themselves.

Bill said: "We have had experts from organisations as diverse as the United Nations through to housing charities lining up to criticise the Bedroom Tax. It is a spiteful and hated piece of legislation that hurts the vulnerable, not least 400,000 disabled people and many more children and families.

"MPs had the opportunity to scrap the Bedroom Tax once and for all during this vote. If Liberal Democrat MPs had backed Labour's bid, the Bedroom Tax, like the Poll Tax in the 1980s, would have been consigned to the history books.

"But instead, Lib Dem MPs, including Southport's Lib Dem MP John Pugh, followed their Conservative masters and voted to keep the Bedroom Tax.

"That is despite the fact that people throughout Sefton, including in Southport, who are struggling to survive because of the Bedroom Tax.

"This includes the case of Jayson and Charlotte Carmichael, the Southport couple who challenged the Bedroom Tax in the High Court. As has been covered in the media, Charlotte suffers from spina bifida, which means she is wheelchair bound. Jayson is her full-time carer. They have lived in their two-bedroomed social house for 11 years. Because of her condition, Charlotte is forced to sleep in a hospital bed in one room, while Jayson sleeps in the other room.

"The Tories and Lib Dems see that as having a spare room. They now fear the mounting debt that will be incurred because they are being forced to pay the Bedroom Tax. That is a Southport couple who have been betrayed by their MP.

"While the Carmichaels' case is high profile, it isn't unique. I've spoken to many people who are in similarly desperate situations because of this hated tax.

"I am desperately sorry for each and every one of them that we didn't get the support of the Lib Dems in Parliament.

"I honestly don't know how the Liberal Democrat MPs who voted with the Tories to keep the Bedroom Tax can sleep at night - because far too many of their own constituents cannot."

Bill said the Bedroom Tax was a flawed policy that penalised people without giving them an option to avoid the tax.

Bill said: "The policy is flawed. There aren't the homes for people to move to even if they wanted to. During the debate that preceded the vote, I told Parliament that there is a serious shortage of smaller social properties for people to move in to. 

"I told MPs that only last month in the borough of Sefton there were 4,963 people registered for a one-bedroom property, but just 10 such properties were available. Does that not demonstrate just how wrong the policy is?

"But the Lib Dems didn't want to listen. Instead they got in line behind their Conservative party friends and voted to continue hurting children, hurting the disabled, hurting the poor. 

"People here in Sefton are hurting at the hands of the Tories and Lib Dems. The Liberal Democrats could have done the right thing. They didn't. They have a lot to answer for."



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